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Headline statistics on the Chinese property market continue to relay a picture of virtually unrelieved gloom. However, in one small but important area, market pressures appear to be easing.

All year long Chinese banks have tightened up on mortgage lending to both first time buyers and purchasers of second homes, withdrawing discounts on mortgage loans and restricting loan growth – and thereby depressing buying activity.

However, this changed in August, with banks switching course to offer softer terms on mortgage loans, several research companies said. Continue reading »

It’s not just about oil. That is, in a nutshell, Mexico’s message to investors. What about halal food? Or ships? Videogames, anyone?

Oil and gas prospects are obviously at the front of Mexico’s investment prospects – the country’s energy reform is expected to attract as much as $50bn in foreign investment in 2020.

But there’s more, the government says. And not just in the increasingly high-tech manufacturing industry that Mexico has embraced – it is the world’s fourth exporter of cars and first of flat-screen TVs, and its aerospace industry has rocketed. Continue reading »

Emerging market stocks are suffering their longest slide in a decade. James Kynge, emerging markets editor, discusses with capital markets correspondent Elaine Moore the factors behind the falling popularity of EM assets and whether an end is in sight.

By Kavaljit Singh, Madhyam

On 28th August, an ambitious programme on financial inclusion – Jan Dhan Yojana (People’s Wealth Scheme) – was rolled out across India amid much fanfare. The government claims that on the inaugural day, a record 15m zero-balance bank accounts were opened across the country under the program. Nowhere else in the world has such a large number of bank accounts been opened on a single day. This is undoubtedly a big achievement for the new government. Continue reading »

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Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, arrived in India on Wednesday for a visit expected to showcase significant investment deals and make progress toward resolving a decades-old border dispute.

But beyond the official bonhomie, the shallow foundations of an uneasy bilateral relationship are readily evident. Nowhere are they more obvious than with tourism. China’s outbound tourism boom appears to have largely bypassed India, which took only 2.5 per cent of its tourist arrivals from its northern neighbour in 2013.

This put Chinese arrivals behind those both from Malaysia – at 3.5 per cent of the total – and Russia – at 3.7 per cent. Continue reading »

Bulgaria must bolster defence spending in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and war in the Middle East, the country’s defence minister has told beyondbrics in exclusive comments. Velizar Shalamanov (pictured), a member of the caretaker government that will step down after elections next month, reiterated Bulgaria’s commitment to Nato at a time when some of the alliance’s members have been accused of backing away from their obligations.

However, a long-term shift towards higher defence spending and a break with Russia will be hard to implement. Continue reading »

** FT News **

* China central bank in $81bn injection | The move is the latest attempt by the authorities to prop up flagging growth and is seen by many as a response to the economy slowing last month

* Yevtushenkov placed under house arrest | Russian oligarch, the chairman and largest holder of conglomerate AFK Sistema, held on money laundering charges relating to acquisition of Bashneft Continue reading »

By Taras Kuzio of the University of Alberta

As Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s president, arrives in Canada to address both houses of parliament the question of why Canada is not willing to give military support to Ukraine is high on the agenda.

Doug Saunders, a columnist at leading daily the Globe and Mail, argues that western governments have good reasons for not supporting Ukraine on the battlefield. These include Ukraine’s military incompetence – a legacy of Soviet training of the officer corps – and continued high-level corruption.

But are these unique and only applicable to Ukraine? Continue reading »

** FT News **

* PBoC injects $81bn into banking system | China’s central bank has injected Rmb500bn into the banking system, according to local media reports, in the latest attempt by the authorities to prop up flagging growth

* US hints at ground troops for Isis fight | General Martin Dempsey says some of the 1,600 US military members already in Iraq could be asked to accompany Iraqi soldiers in attacks Continue reading »

A huge bonfire of the brands awaits auto manufacturers in China as some 90m car owners prepare to disregard loyalty when they chose their next model.

A survey of some 2,400 car owners conducted by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) found an itch to switch brands among 83 per cent of respondents who drove domestic Chinese brand cars. Of these, only 30 per cent said they would drive another domestic brand as their next car, while a full 40 per cent said they planned to plump for a Volkswagen.

The findings suggest that the next big trend for auto manufacturers in the Chinese market – which has expanded tenfold since 2000 to register annual sales of around 20m units – may not be so much concerned with chasing growth as with inculcating brand loyalty. Continue reading »

Presidential candidate Aécio Neves receives minor boost in polls

Brazil’s benchmark stock index staged one of its most volatile trading days yet in the lead-up to next month’s election ahead of a poll that showed upstart presidential candidate Marina Silva rebuilding her lead.

The Bovespa index finished up 2 per cent at 59,114.66 after earlier gains of nearly 4 per cent on hopes that the poll would indicate incumbent President Dilma Rousseff was losing, analysts said. Continue reading »

By Eric Platt and Andres Schipani

Another lurch lower for Venezuela: the country’s sovereign credit rating was cut deeper into junk territory to ‘CCC+’ by Standard & Poor’s on Tuesday as it grapples with recession, rocketing inflation, dwindling foreign reserves and widespread shortages of goods.

S&P lowered its rating one notch from ‘B-’, which the agency said indicated a “one-in-two likelihood of default over the next two years”. Continue reading »

Colombia’s economy may have suffered a hiccup, but it continues to outperform its regional peers amid a slowing of the commodities boom.

The national statistics agency said on Tuesday that gross domestic product grew 4.3 per cent in the second quarter of the year, below analysts expectations. Continue reading »

The latest UN annual report on hunger and food security is a sobering reminder of the challenges that Africa faces in spite of a recent improvement in economic growth and governance.

The State of Food Insecurity in the World, published by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme, says that the reduction in global hunger continued with numbers of undernourished people falling from 840m in 2008-2010 to 805m in 2012-2014. Continue reading »

Poor forward planning and political manipulation of energy prices look likely to leave Turkey facing gas shortages this winter, even before the prospect of regional gas cuts due to the on-going hostilities in Ukraine.

Turkey last week experienced an unexplained drop in pressure in its western import line, through which it receives 14bn cubic metres (bcm) of gas from Russia, or about 30 per cent of Turkish demand. That sparked fears of further cuts during the peak mid winter demand period should a working ceasefire not be concluded.

But Turkey’s gas woes are not confined to one import line through Ukraine. Continue reading »